Honors Explorations Courses
Honors explorations courses are topic-based general education courses taught by faculty in their particular areas of interest and expertise. Honors students are required to complete three honors explorations courses in different areas. Below is a list of upcoming course offerings.
The Wire (HONR 220: Honors Social Science)
Dr. Neal McNabb
Asst. Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice
Using HBO's The Wire as a backdrop, this class will undertake a sociological study of numerous issues confronting America. Though the series is known for being a realistic, gritty portrayal about inner city life that focuses on drugs and the police, we will not simply study the phenomenon of crime. Throughout the course of the semester, we will focus on additional topics including, but not limited to, social inequality, urban poverty, public education, race, politics, capitalism and deindustrialization, the role of mass media, etc. Students will watch the entire television series (five seasons) during the course of the semester, and we will discuss various social problems presented both in the series and from additional readings/outside assignments.
NOTE: This series contains considerable profanity, violence, and sexual content (viewer discretion is advised).
Minds, Fiction and the Human Identity (HONR 230: Honors Humanities)
Dr. Steven Mills
Asst. Professor of Spanish
What makes us human? How are we unique among species, and within the human race? How does our mind work? The human mind has been an enigma since the dawn of philosophy, while products of the human mind (e.g. art, tools, literature, culture, etc.) have existed long before. Why do we have cultural or artistic artifacts? We will address these questions while engaging literature as both a product of and evidence of our uniquely human mind, looking at how we interact with characters, or how characters interact among themselves, and on occasion how they interact with us as readers. Literature is an increasing source of studying our inner workings as humans, and in this class we will delve into the discussions, their implications, and the works in order to learn about our basic yet unique and incredibly complex human capabilities.
HONR 210: Honors Social Science
Dr. Stan Ullerich
Professor of Economics
This course, after building micro and macro foundations, looks at the roles of resources, reliance upon markets, and institutions in advancing economic well-being, especially in less developed nations. Ownership of resources, freedom to exchange, adequate nutrition, capital (investment) flows, labor force productivity, education, technological change, the (public) provision of infrastructure, and role of international participants in promoting economic growth are examined. Public choice theory applied to non-market decision-making is introduced.
Readings, from both texts and from among current publications, will be remarked upon via student’s writing, oral presentations (debates) and during class discussions. Students will become familiar with assessing and distinguishing between the economic performance of G-8, G-20, middle-income, and less(er) developed nations. Why have some “made it?” Others, like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), are “well positioned to grow.” While a few, like Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Cuba, have per capita standards of living lower than their residents enjoyed 50 years ago.
Science as Information (HONR 220: Honors Science)
Dr. Jason Shepherd
Asst. Professor of Computer Science
Over the past fifty years, computing has had an immutable effect on the physical and life sciences. Viewing science through the lens of information has led humanity to extraordinary discoveries (e.g., the Human Genome Project) in part because of how easily this information can be explored and manipulated by computers. In this class, we will apply the scientific method by using computers as our lab and computer code as our tool for scientific discovery.
HONR 230: Honors Humanities
Dr. Laura Bernhardt
Assoc. Professor of Philosophy
How is a sign, a sentence, or an event meaningful? What is meaning? How do signs, objects, and utterances convey information? How do we handle contested interpretations, in which symbols may bear multiple meanings that prove contradictory? How do we manage the many difficulties of translation and understanding across cultures, languages, and time periods? How is meaning related to truth? These are at least some of the puzzles that this version of HONR 230 would like to explore in a new course on meaning. In this class, students will apply readings in semiotics, rhetoric, anthropology, and the philosophy of language to the study of the meanings and symbolic uses of monuments and memorials. Students will use case studies to develop their own approaches to the concept of meaning, drawing examples both from their own research and from a field outing to the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, IA.
Religions of Iowa (HONR 230: Humanities)
Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya
Assoc. Professor of Religion
Textiles, Economies, & Cultures (HONR 220: Social Science)
Dr. Inez Schaechterle
Assoc. Professor of English